When I say it’s boggling, I don’t mean it doesn’t make any sense. I just mean it’s hard to make sense of, because there are so many disparate elements.
In the deal, the Cardinals get one year of outfielder Jason Heyward, two years of relief pitcher Jordan Walden, and a pretty good draft pick if Heyward leaves via free agency after next season.
In the same deal, the Braves get four years of starting pitcher Shelby Miller and potentially six years of pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins … except Jenkins isn’t much of a prospect at this point. While he might turn into something of real, quantifiable value, at this point he’s a rounding error in the equation.
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When I talked about this on the MLB Network with Brian Kenny, I talked about signals. To me, this trade is mostly about the Cardinals sending signals. They’re sending a signal that a) they don’t believe Shelby Miller will again become the fine pitcher he was in August, 2013; and b) Jason Heyward’s outstanding defensive metrics tell us a true story about his value.
Heyward’s power has declined, but meanwhile his defense just seems to get better and better; by my count, roughly 40 percent of his value over the last three seasons derives from his defense. Which makes him an outstanding player.
As for Miller, his disappearance in the 2013 postseason and his low strikeout rate in 2014 suggest that he’s somehow broken. The Braves either don’t believe this, or think they can fix him. We’ll be watching.